Bringing the world together

Yo-Yo Ma, Silkroad Ensemble
Oman Observer

By Maurice Gent

Yo Yo Ma started his life in the East and is now an American citizen. It has enabled this musician with a mission for bringing people together to carry his message worldwide. This weekend he brought it to Muscat and the Royal Opera House Muscat, where his highly talented group were met with great joy. Just to underline the point of universality musicians from Oman’s own Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra were included in one presentation.

He describes his comprehensive model as he strives to bring all people and all cultures closer together.

‘Throughout my travel and performances across the world I have had the opportunity to explore a wealth of different cultures and musical voices from the immense passion and grace of Bach’s Cello Suites to the ancient Celtic fiddle traditions in Appalachia, to the soulful strains of the bandoneon in one of Argentina’s tango cafes.

‘I have met and been guided by musicians, who like my Silk Road Ensemble colleagues share my wonder at the creative potential that exists where cultures intersect.’.

His musical model, he says, requires curiosity, collaboration and wholehearted enthusiasm. The music we play does not belong to one culture or that of the Silk Route region.

Our interest is in exploring cultural diversity. This formula, he says, has allowed the group to play in an astonishing array of locations. His group has played in the United Nations Assembly Hall and the sacred space of Todai-ji Temple in Japan.

He sums up the philosopy of his project as careful investigation, joining tradition with new knowledge and innovation. One of the great things for him, he says is forming friendships throughout the world.

The response to him in Oman has been very warm indeed. I cannot recall quite such a warm and enthusiastic reception given to any other. One was left aghast wondering just when the applause would ever stop. His group has made both new friends and contacts in Oman, which will certainly endure.